Category Archives: Mobility

Notes from the field: the ever-changing autonomous vehicle narrative

Work Truck Show 2020 day 1

It’s been fascinating to watch how the autonomous vehicle narrative has changed over the past year or so. Not so long ago a legion experts, many of whom were not entirely coincidentally connected to the VC-Startup complex, were predicting that 2020 was set to be the year in which self-driving cars and trucks finally arrived. Now, according to predictions by those who think they know best, it will take at least another decade before the true age of autonomy explodes.

Given that there already well over a billion vehicles on the road and the political complexity of pushing through new legislation and regulation, it is more likely that the transition to autonomy will take much longer than a single decade. It’s also probable that there will be multiple bursts in different categories rather than a single big bang. Continue reading Notes from the field: the ever-changing autonomous vehicle narrative

notes from the field: enabling new last-mile services with autonomous delivery vehicles

last-mile services

Autonomous delivery vehicles have the potential to be much more than a replacement or extension of existing delivery services. With a powerful computing system inside them, they will be able to go beyond simply transporting goods or meals from a logistics hub to a consumer’s home to providing a wealth of new last-mile services that improve convenience, security, and health for individual consumers and the community at large.

In addition to core navigation and safety functionality such as 360° surround view video, long and short-range radar, and LiDAR, autonomous delivery vehicles will be able to support a huge selection of additional features and applications to meet individual and community needs – such as facial recognition to ensure that the right person is picking up the delivery and even thermal sensors for scanning the temperature of workers and other people who come close to the vehicle. Continue reading notes from the field: enabling new last-mile services with autonomous delivery vehicles

Notes from the field: when will autonomous delivery vehicles become a commonplace sight?

Autonomous delivery vehicles

How long will it be before autonomous delivery vehicles become a commonplace sight on the streets of our towns and cities?

Perhaps this will happen much sooner than many people think. Demand for such devices looks set to explode as delivery and logistics companies look to reduce operational costs and expand the range and convenience of the services they offer without having to hire additional drivers. According to a recent AutoSens blog article, there are already over thirty companies providing autonomous delivery solutions in China – with many more expected to pile into the market. In the US, a growing number of retailers such as Walmart, Kroger, Lowes, and Target have also started testing autonomous deliveries using vehicles from the likes of Nuro, Ford, and Waymo. Continue reading Notes from the field: when will autonomous delivery vehicles become a commonplace sight?

Notes from the field: promising new seeds of mobility?

new seeds of mobility

It’s hard to be optimistic when it comes to predicting how the mobility market will develop as more and more countries gradually emerge from the Covid-19 lockdown.

One key question is whether the traditional auto industry will be able to recover from its catastrophic drop in sales once people are allowed to hit the road again. The fragile state of the global economy and the growing popularity of remote working practices and on-demand grocery and meal delivery services suggest that achieving a recovery will be challenging to put it mildly. In the short term at least, it’s likely that auto makers will have to put a lot of long-term development projects on hold as they grapple with today’s grim economic realities. Continue reading Notes from the field: promising new seeds of mobility?

Notes from the field: the great mobility consumption model shift

mobility consumption model

One of the biggest changes that will occur during the transition to autonomous vehicles is that there will be a dramatic shift in the mobility consumption model. Rather than owning cars, people will purchase mobility as a service in much the same way as they buy airline tickets today.

Already we are seeing a major move in this direction in metropolitan areas with the growing popularity of ridesharing services offered by companies like Uber and Lyft. Many young people living in cities no longer bother going to the trouble of obtaining a driver’s license, much less purchasing a car, because they can get around much more cheaply and conveniently using these and other micromobility services such as bikes and scooters together with public transport. Continue reading Notes from the field: the great mobility consumption model shift

Notes from the field: improving rural mobility for the elderly

rural mobility

At the STS Forum in Kyoto in October, one of the most interesting topics discussed was the huge challenge Japan faces dealing with its rapidly growing elderly population. The situation is particularly acute in rural areas, because most young people have left them to find work in the big cities and public transportation services are so limited that the elderly fight to hang on to their cars way past the time they are able to drive safely. As one speaker pointed out, this is leading to a growing number fatalities among young people caused by elderly drivers who, for example, press the accelerator rather than brake pedal.

Even though the UK and other developed economies don’t have quite the same proportion of elderly people in their populations, they too will face the same issues over the next two or three decades. A big danger is that many old people will end up spending the latter part of their lives virtually marooned in their homes because they are physically incapable of making it to the bus stop – much less getting to the clinic or hospital for a medical appointment or even the café or shop for a natter with friends. Continue reading Notes from the field: improving rural mobility for the elderly

Notes from the field: Deep Thoughts?

deep thoughts

It’s good to be back in Taipei after a bracing couple of weeks breathing in the sharp, fresh air of the south Lincolnshire fens.

I would like to claim that I was thinking Deep Thoughts during my daily walks along the surrounding country lanes and pathways, but I would say that my trip was more of a digital detox tour than an exploration of new intellectual frontiers. We get so much information thrust into our heads these days that it’s necessary find time to switch off. Continue reading Notes from the field: Deep Thoughts?

Great tech industry transitions: from the PC to Mobility

tech industry transitions

If you look back at the history of the tech industry, a major transition takes place roughly every decade that drives new applications, form factors, and usage models and expands the overall user base and market size.

In the 1990s, there was tremendous growth in the PC market as prices went down, notebooks became lighter and more portable, and a wider range of business and home software applications became available. Continue reading Great tech industry transitions: from the PC to Mobility